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A Way Too Early Minnesota Vikings 2012 Draft Wishlist

Sean ConeryContributor IIIOctober 19, 2011

A Way Too Early Minnesota Vikings 2012 Draft Wishlist

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    Christian Ponder is the new starting quarterback, the team is 1-5, and the season is seemingly lost. While the latter is not necessarily true, nothing short of an 8-2 finish will give the Vikings even a tiny chance at the playoffs.

    While the team has shown flashes of brilliance, there have also been glaring holes on the roster revealed in the first part of this season. With the trade deadline having already passed and the free agency pool being picked dry, the Vikings next good opportunity to add talent won't come until next April's draft.

    It may be too early to consider the draft but then again you can be sure the scouts have been analyzing this years prospects for a several months already. With a draft that seems deep in all of the right places for the Vikings, a good draft this year could turn the team around as soon as next season.

    With Christian Ponder getting a chance at some early experience, he can work out some kinks before next year when the team gets a clean slate. Surrounding him with talent could allow the Vikings to compete with the all-too-powerful Green Bay Packers, the suddenly amazing Detroit Lions, and the surprisingly underrated Chicago Bears as soon as 2012.

    While every draft pick will be important, it goes without saying that the first pick will be crucial. There's no way to know who's on the Vikings real wish list, but knowing that the Vikings like to draft the best player available and that there are certain glaring needs that the team will try to address, we can guess at a top 20.

#20 Cliff Harris: CB Oregon

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    Antoine Winfield is starting to miss tackles as he gets older, Cedric Griffin is coming off of his second torn ACL which hasn't allowed him to be his old self, and none of the other Vikings corners have consistently shown top corner potential.

    Chris Cook could be somebody someday, the team hasn't given up on Asher Allen yet and young guns Brandon Burton and Marcus Sherels look half decent, but none of them seem to be on the path to becoming a shutdown corner. That being said, looking to one of the nation's best defense's number one corner can't be too bad of an idea.

    Cliff Harris is an electric corner who could add some much needed big play ability to the Vikings' defense. Last year he tallied six interceptions and 30 tackles as Oregon's best corner. All six of those picks came in big games, indicating that Harris is a big game player. Against Tennessee he took one back 76 yards for a score, another came against Arizona State in a close one on the road, he got top QBs Matt Barkley once and Andrew Luck twice, and he also took one away from Cam Newton in the BCS National Championship.

    As many of today's young players do, Harris does come with character concerns. The speedy corner doesn't just like flying around the field, but also the roads, as he was ticketed for driving 118 mph in a 65 mph zone. He also apparently had some academic issues which removed him from Chip Kelly's good graces.

    Harris hasn't seen much playing time this year as he's been working his way back into the starting lineup after being suspended for the first game of the year for his off-field antics. He has finally addressed the media and apologized for his mistakes, but he has still been held back from his starting role on the defense most of this year. This could knock him well out of the first round of the draft, but he'll still be awfully appealing to any team looking for corner help. He could have easily cracked the top ten on this list with good numbers this year.

    Hopefully Harris works his way back on to the field full time soon, but no matter what the Vikings would benefit from his presence at corner next year.

#19 Michael Brewster: C Ohio State

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    John Sullivan was finally staying relatively healthy for the Vikings until Sunday night's contest against the Bears, when he left early with concussion symptoms. If the injury bug keeps biting and/or he doesn't keep improving, the Vikings will be forced to look at finding a new center.

    That's not to say that if Sullivan stays healthy that he's a bad center, he's pretty good. As a team that drafts the best players available though, the Vikings would have to consider drafting a guy that could anchor the line for years to come and fill the huge shoes left by Matt Birk. A guy that could step in right away and improve running back Adrian Peterson's chances for each running attempt could never be a bad thing.

    Michael Brewster is a 6'5", 305 pound monster who could finally end the chill that goes up any Minnesota sports fan's spine when they hear the name Brewster. He has started since he was given a chance as a true freshman and never looked back. Being the centerpiece to one of the nation's top program's offensive line is enough to sell me. He was considered the number one recruit at the center position back in 2008 and has lived up to the hype ever since, so there are high hopes that his game will translate into the NFL.

    Some folks seem to like Wisconsin's Peter Konz a little better as he is a little bit bigger and is a part of a better team and a wildly successful offensive line. Still, it is hard not to consider that his success is at least partially due to the immense talent around him in Wisconsin's monstrous front five. Both Konz and Brewster project to be great centers on the next level, but Brewster seems slightly less risky a pick.

    If Konz does go first though, Brewster could slip into the second round where the Vikings could steal him with the early pick they are on pace to get.

    Hopefully, Sullivan continues to improve and the Vikings can confidently count on him being the starter for the long term so they can focus their attention elsewhere come draft day. If Sullivan does get hurt for an extended period of time again though, Brewster would climb higher on this list and hopefully on the Vikings real draft board as well.

#18 Jayron Hosley: CB Virginia Tech

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    Despite many attempts at addressing the position in the draft, cornerback is still a position of need for the Vikings. With one of the most promising groups of corners in a long time eligible for the draft, it will be hard to watch the Vikings pass on one of the top prospects at the position if they get the chance at one.

    Even though he's not the biggest guy you'll ever see, Jayron Hosley is a flat out playmaker. The 5'10", 170 pound firecracker has five pass deflections and three interceptions in only six games played this year, which indicates that he may come close to his nine picks in 2010 while most likely surpassing his seven pass deflection total from that same season.

    Hosley is only a junior, and while he's a bit small, the Vikings current stud corner Antoine Winfield is only 5'9" and 180 pounds. He's one of the hardest hitting corners in the league and makes big tackles while shutting down top wideouts consistently.

    If Winfield can hold his own, so can Hosley, the only problem is that the star from Blacksburg doesn't quite fit the bill of a typical Vikings corner. Minnesota has favored bigger, harder hitting corners like Cedric Griffin and Chris Cook with high picks in recent years. Jayron Hosley is more of a cover corner but he is on pace to make a massive improvement on his 39 tackle total of last year having already recorded 27 this year.

    Hosley is young and has amazing potential, so if he declares for the draft in April, Vikings fans should be pretty happy if his name gets called. A corner with the kind of big play ability Hosley has could wreak havoc on a defense with the amazing pass rush provided by the Vikings defensive line.

#17 Stephon Gilmore: CB South Carolina

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    I wasn't kidding when I said this is a great crop of draft eligible corners. South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore will be yet another highly sought after cornerback come draft day.

    The Vikings may find themselves more interested in a guy like Stephen Gilmore because he's a lot like young corners Cedric Griffin and Chris Cook. He's a bigger corner who can still hold his own against faster receivers while being a big part of the run defense. Standing at 6'1" and 193 pounds, Gilmore fits the bill of a preferred Vikings corner better than most of the other prospects.

    The junior has 156 career tackles as a Gamecock, and an impressive six career sacks as well. He also makes plays on the ball, as evidenced by six career interceptions, one of which he took to the house.

    Gilmore is a promising young defensive back who would probably benefit by polishing his game at the collegiate level next year before going pro, but his first round projection might just entice him to enter the draft. If he does, don't be surprised if him and his cool dreads are wearing purple next year vying for a starting job.

#16 Zach Brown: OLB North Carolina

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    Outside linebacker is actually a pretty solid position for the Vikings considering Chad Greenway's consistently elite performance and Erin Henderson's surprisingly decent play. As far as depth is concerned however, there really is none at the position. While outside linebacker depth isn't exactly a top priority for the Vikings, there is still a case to be made for drafting Brown.

    Zach Brown is the very best pure outside linebacker in the class without a doubt, so he wouldn't be drafted to provide depth. From the Vikings standpoint though, passing on him in the draft could be passing on the best OLB combo for years to come and add decent trade value for Erin Henderson.

    It would also leave the option open to keep Erin Henderson as a solid backup to all three linebacker positions, allowing the coaching staff to sleep a little easier at night.

    Essentially, Brown could make an immediate impact at outside linebacker and become a true force alongside E.J Henderson and Chad Greenway. Erin Henderson could either become valuable trade bait or a very solid backup providing some much needed depth.

    The 6'2" 230 pound speed demon (sub 4.5 40 yard dash) is very good against the run and has shown that he has taken care of open field tackling issues he struggled with in 2010. He is also great in coverage which can keep a corner off of the field against multiple receiver sets to help defend against surprise runs and draws better.

    If some of the better options are gone or if Brown somehow slips to the second round on draft day, the Vikings should take a close look at him.

#15 Nick Toon: WR Wisconsin

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    One of the most highly criticized positions on the Vikings roster is the wide receiver position. With Bernard Berrian's extremely underwhelming performance and off the field antics, he's well on his way to the free agent pool. Outside of Percy Harvin, the rest of the receiving corps is full of sloppy seconds like Devin Aromashodu, Greg Camarillo and Michael Jenkins.

    Aromashodu has been showing promise but Camarillo hasn't proven to be worth the trade last year for Benny Sapp. Michael Jenkins is okay and provides solid depth, but the Vikings lack a true number one guy.

    Nick Toon is quietly climbing draft projections everywhere, and for good reason. He's caught 25 balls this year for 447 yards and six scores. At that pace he projects for over 50 catches, more than a dozen touchdowns and over 1000 receiving yards. Not too bad.

    Toon could instantly fill the void left by Sidney Rice as he's also a big receiver that provides a huge redzone threat. At 6'2" and 220 pounds, he can go up and grab jump balls and be the playmaker the Vikings need. At this point fans can't care if he comes from their rival state, the Vikings need all of the help they can get.

#14 Andrew Luck: QB Stanford

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    Yeah, yeah, yeah, Luck is the consensus number one pick and the Vikings used last year's first round pick on Christian Ponder. If the Vikings end up with a top three pick and he falls into their lap though, that's a giant bundle of limitless talent that any team has to consider.

    Andrew Luck is the closest thing to a surefire superstar to come along in a while, and there are still questions surrounding Ponder's potential. Viking's GM Rick Spielman has always been a best player available style drafter, and Luck is the best player on the board at any point. Ponder can always be developed and traded like Kevin Kolb was, or maybe he'd shock the world and pass up Luck (he was awfully impressive in the fourth quarter against the Bears). Those things have a funny way of working themselves out.

    I won't ramble about Luck's various achievements and statistics, that's all common knowledge by now. He's ridiculously good, and while landing him could be huge for the Vikings, he's only number 14 on this list because drafting him is a luxury they probably can't afford and Ponder looks plenty good anyways.

#13 David DeCastro: G Stanford

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    When a quarterback is as insanely successful as Andrew Luck has been, there's no doubt that he's playing behind a great offensive line. David DeCastro is one of the most promising members of that great line and the Vikings would benefit greatly with him joining their own offensive line corps.

    David DeCastro is a giant who, standing at 6'5", will be a force in the NFL no matter where he lands. In Minnesota, Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera are both playing well, but they're both running on empty at the same time. Hutchinson might still have a couple of solid years left in him but Herrera is probably on his last leg. Since DeCastro is a right guard anyways, he is an awfully attractive pick to replace the veteran next year.

    The Vikings could move him to left guard as his footwork is fantastic and he can be found making blocks in the second level frequently, but it's a lot easier to find a good left guard than it is to find a good right guard. That being said, it makes the most sense to keep him at his current position.

    It's pretty safe to say that DeCastro has a great chance at developing into a top tier interior lineman, something the Vikings desperately need.

#12 Morris Claiborne: CB LSU

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    Coming back to the cornerback position, LSU's Morris Claiborne is a great player that could easily go in the top 15 of this year's draft. He's finally out from Patrick Peterson's shadow and he has everything anyone could ask for in a top corner.

    Claiborne is 6'1", 185 pounds and runs a 4.45 40, so he has enough height and speed to keep up with elite receivers. He's not a tackling machine but he makes some good plays in the open field. Claiborne also has some half decent return skills and an impressive eight career interceptions.

    Like many other cornerback prospects this year, he's only a junior. Claiborne could easily become a top five pick with an extra year under his belt but being a top 20 prospect is hard to pass up.

    Overall, Claiborne isn't overly flashy but he isn't lacking in any particular area either. He's a solid all around player who will continue to improve and most likely be some team's number one corner a couple of years down the road. The Vikings would sure benefit from being that team.

#11 Manti Te'o: ILB Notre Dame

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    E.J Henderson has been one of the most unheralded middle linebackers in the league for years. Although he's had an injury-riddled career, he has recorded over 100 tackles in each full season he has played as a starter. He's only 31 years old and has some gas left in the tank, but it's time to start thinking of who can replace him down the line. Not only that, the Vikings aren't very deep at linebacker anyways.

    Enter Manti Te'o, the anchor of the Fighting Irish defense. In his case, the stats really speak for themselves. In 31 games played he has 255 total tackles (23.5 of them for a loss), six sacks and five pass deflections.

    Although it's a highly unlikely scenario, it could also open the door for Minnesota to abandon the Tampa 2 defense all NFL offenses are very used to in favor of the 3-4.

    On film, Te'o is all over the field making plays with his hard-nosed style of play. With a couple of years being mentored by Henderson, Te'o could take the reins and become a big time playmaker for the Minnesota defense. As a bonus, he has the leadership skills that could make him a great team captain one day.

#10 Brandon Jenkins: OLB/DE Florida State

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    If Brandon Jenkins was on pace to improve on or even match his numbers from last year he might be a candidate for a top three pick next year.

    13.5 sacks in the understated ACC conference last year speak for themselves, especially paired with 56 total tackles and a forced fumble. This year has been a bit slower with defenses focusing more of their attention on him though, and he only has a pair of sacks and 22 total tackles thus far.

    While Jenkins currently plays defensive end for the Seminoles, some project that he may be better suited at outside linebacker in the NFL. He is amazingly quick for being 6'3" and 265 pounds and has the size for both positions but he could probably be a solid defender at either spot in the NFL so it depends on who drafts him.

    Brandon Jenkins plays a ferocious brand of football and seems to have a never-ending motor. He also plays smart and manages to get to the ball carrier whenever possible. Even though his production has slowed, his skills haven't seemed to have diminished and the rest of his schedule provides a great opportunity for improving his stats.

    The Vikings are pretty set at OLB and DE, but Brandon Jenkins might be the next elite pass rusher in the NFL. Imagine him combined with Jared Allen–it's beyond scary. If the Vikings had him at outside linebacker or defensive end they could possibly flaunt the best pass rush in the NFL. That alone makes him a very attractive option.

#9 Riley Reiff: OT Iowa

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    Charlie Johnson is getting older and Phil Loadholt has yet to prove himself, so adding a top tackle prospect to the mix wouldn't hurt Minnesota. Iowa's Riley Reiff is one of the best of the best.

    The redshirt junior is 6'6" and 300 pounds, making him big enough to hold his own in the NFL, and his surprisingly quick feet give him a chance against defensive ends with elite speed. The cherry on top is that he plays left tackle, which is ideal for the Vikings since giving up on Loadholt now is premature.

    If the Vikings had somebody like Reiff to seal the left edge consistently for Adrian Peterson, the result is scary for any team not wearing purple and gold.

#8 Cordy Glenn: G Georgia

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    Which player in the picture above do you think is widely regarded as one of the top recruits at guard for the upcoming draft? Yeah that's right, number 71 Cordy Glenn. He may very well become one of the NFL's best guards in a few years, so wouldn't it be nice if the Vikings got their hands on him?

    If the fact that he's an absolute monster at 6'5" and 350 pounds isn't enough to sell you, his brute strength, shockingly solid footwork, great hustle, and overall consistent play should.

    Isaiah Crowell is on pace to rush for well over 1000 yards behind him and Aaron Murray is getting pretty good protection in the pocket. You can bet that Cordy Glenn is a huge reason for that success.

    Glenn could compete for a starting job right away at left guard allowing the Vikings to move on from Hutchinson, or either of them could move to right guard and relieve Anthony Herrera. No matter what they decided to do with him, Glenn would be a great addition to the Vikings offensive line.

#7 Luke Kuechly: ILB Boston College

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    Once again, if the Vikings draft a middle linebacker he would probably start out as E.J Henderson's protégée. If the Vikings picked up Luke Kuechly out of Boston College, however, he could possibly allow for the team to trade away Henderson while he still has trade value.

    What makes Kuechly so good is his amazing nose for the football. The Eagles aren't exactly on pace for a bowl game at 1-5, but in the 12 games he'll get for sure he's on pace to record 198 tackles. Stats don't ever tell the whole story about a player, but that's flat out ridiculous.

    Kuechly's lateral quickness is pretty solid for an interior linebacker, and he is a hard hitter who rarely lets a tackle get away. He is smart in hitting his gaps and also very good in zone coverage with an impressive five picks as a result.

    The only knock on Kuechly is his size, so bulking up wouldn't hurt him. Sometimes when lineman get to the second level he gets knocked out of the play because he's too small and gets bulldozed. 6'3" 237 pounds is a bit undersized for an NFL middle linebacker, but if he works hard, gaining 10 pounds isn't out of the question.

    Undersized or not, Luke Kuechly makes tackles left and right and is especially gifted at tracking down scrambling quarterbacks. Even if he just neutralized Aaron Rodgers' scrambling ability twice a year for the Vikes he'd be worth a high pick.

#6 Jonathan Martin: OT Stanford

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    Charlie Johnson had played alright in 2011 until Sunday night's game against the Bears, where he did his best to impersonate a revolving door for Julius Peppers to pass through effortlessly. Peppers was hardly hindered by Johnson despite having a bum knee and was a menace to both McNabb and Ponder all night long.

    With the Ponder era starting very soon, the Vikings need to protect his blindside if they want him to be the quarterback of the long term future instead of just the near future. Charlie Johnson is clearly not the answer, and there is no solution to be found in the free agent pool either.

    That leaves only a trade or the draft as the solution, and unless the Vikings want to trade away their entire draft for an elite left tackle, they may want to address it early if they want to fix the problem for good before 2013.

    Andrew Luck's wild success is definitely a result of playing behind a great offensive line as I mentioned before, and left tackle Jonathan Martin (above, #55) pretty much always keep his guy out of Luck's face for at least three seconds on passing downs. He's an absolute force in the running game too and seems to be a very smart player to boot.

    His feet are quick but not great which will mean he will have to work hard to become a top notch left tackle in the NFL and slow down guys like Julius Peppers. The 6'6" behemoth has dominating strength which, when combined with his solid technique, makes for a highly potent combination. There's no reason to doubt that with some solid effort he'll become a great player at the professional level.

    The Vikings are sure to have him way up high on their wish list, so if he's there they'll have a very hard time passing on him.

#5 Justin Blackmon: WR Oklahoma State

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    If there is truly a consensus number one receiver for the 2012 draft it has to be Justin Blackmon. He might not be quite as athletically gifted as his peers at the position, but he's right up there with the best of them, which still says a lot. What could put him over the top are the absurd stats he's accumulated against the very solid Big 12 conference.

    Last year he snagged 111 passes for 1782 yards and a whopping 20 touchdowns. This year he's on pace to come close to that, with 53 grabs for 608 yards and seven scores through six games with at least six but most likely seven games to go.

    He has been blessed with solid quarterback play to support him in his college career and there are doubts as to whether he can get open against NFL caliber secondaries but he's never been slowed down yet. Blackmon has faced some very solid defenses in his career and he's burned them all.

    He supposedly only runs a 4.54 40 yard dash, but he plays like it's a 4.3 the way he absolutely flies down the field. When defenders do get their hands on him he doesn't go down easy, he can out jump anybody, and he runs some pretty good routes for a junior as well.

    At 6'1" and 215 pounds he is built to be a deep threat, but his great ball skills could allow him to turn into a Larry Fitzgerald-like threat. Even if he doesn't get quite that good at the next level, he'll at least be a top notch deep threat like Mike Wallace.

    If the Vikings snagged Blackmon in the draft, the Vikings would force opposing safeties to stay out of the box by having two great deep threats to stretch the field. This would allow Adrian Peterson more running room and Percy Harvin to get less attention in coverage schemes. As a huge added bonus the team could also finally move on from Bernard Berrian.

    Blackmon's addition to the offense could allow the Vikings to become an elite offensive team as soon as his first season.

#4 Alshon Jeffery: WR South Carolina

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    What do you do when you lose your star receiver out of South Carolina? Get another one.

    All signs indicate that Alshon Jeffery could be even better than Sidney Rice–there's just hardly anything this stud receiver can't do. Corners can rarely stuff him on the line in press coverage, he only needs one free hand to make catches in traffic, and he routinely makes spectacular grabs when being heavily interfered with. Jeffery also demonstrates excellent judgement when choosing between going up and getting balls or letting them come to him in stride.

    Whether on screens or in the middle of the field, Jeffery can make defenders miss or just run right over them depending on the situation. His route running is surprisingly polished and he demonstrates the ability to find holes in zones and create easy targets for quarterbacks on the run. He won't beat anyone in a footrace but his speed is still deceptive and he only drops a pass once in a blue moon.

    All of those skills led to a statistically stellar sophomore campaign with 88 grabs for 1517 yards and 9 scores. This year started a bit slower as a result of quarterback issues, but Jeffery has finally exploded his last 3 games with 16 catches for 205 yards and 4 touchdowns. What's even more impressive is that he's done all of this in the best conference in the nation.

    Comparing him to a current professional receiver is a little difficult, but Anquan Boldin and a taller version of Hines Ward come to mind. Even those two will probably fall short of Jeffery's eventual production though, as he looks to be a sure bet to become one of the NFL's finest wideouts.

    If Minnesota could give Christian Ponder Jeffery as a new target in addition to Percy Harvin and the emerging Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings might just be able to turn the corner offensively. Justin Blackmon and Nick Toon would be very good, but Jeffery brings unlimited potential to the table.

#3 Dre Kirkpatrick: CB Alabama

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    Perhaps the most surefire future star at corner in next year's draft will be Dre Kirkpatrick out of Alabama. He isn't the flashiest corner of all time, but he sure shuts down each opponents' number one wide receiver on a weekly basis.

    Kirkpatrick doesn't have an eye-popping amount of interceptions (3 in his career), but neither does Nnamdi Asomugha. It isn't because they aren't great at intercepting passes though, it just means opposing teams aren't stupid enough to throw at them.

    Kirkpatrick is fast enough to keep up with anyone going deep (4.49 40 yard dash), but what is truly jaw dropping is his quickness and agility. Kirkpatrick literally seems to beam across the field, often making tackles before the receiver realizes he caught the ball. That's only if his guy can make the catch though, as he often appears to be attached by the hip to his man in one on one coverage. Kirkpatrick is even scarier in the zone because he reads quarterbacks so well that when combined with his quickness he is seemingly impossible beat.

    He is also excellent in run support as he is not easily fooled, he hits very hard, and he never waits for the ball carrier to come to him. Kirkpatrick aggressively charges whoever has the ball and very rarely misses when he does.

    While he might not rack up a bunch of picks every season, Kirkpatrick will assuredly develop into an absolute shut-down corner who also makes tough tackles against outside runs and screens. If the Vikings can pick him up early in the draft, he might just make a huge impact right away.

#2 Michael Floyd: WR Notre Dame

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    Michael Floyd is widely regarded as the third best receiver in this class, but in the Vikings case he should be their number one choice.

    First of all, he would most likely be regarded as at least a top ten choice if it weren't for his numerous off the field issues revolving around alcohol. After having a scare due to being removed from the team indefinitely though, Floyd seems to finally have his act together.

    Floyd has managed to put up great numbers since his freshman year despite poor coaching, poor quarterback play, multiple quarterback changes and a coaching change. No matter what is going on around him or how poorly his teammates are playing, Floyd just gets his job done no matter what.

    About halfway through his senior year, Floyd has managed to accumulate 224 career receptions for 3178 yards and 32 touchdowns in 35 games. That's an average of 6.4 catches for 90.8 yards and almost a touchdown a game.

    While those numbers are good but not great, he's had to share the spotlight with the likes of Golden Tate, Armando Allen, and Kyle Rudolph while catching passes from the underwhelming cast of Jimmy Clausen and the not so dynamic duo of Tommy Rees and Dayne Crist.

    If you take away the lackluster surrounding cast and just consider the consistently tough schedule and impressive film, suddenly Floyd looks like an amazing prospect.

    He's tough enough to fight off physical corners and has ball skills vastly superior to even the nation's finest defensive backs. He has great route running skills, possibly the best hands in the nation, and his blocking skills are even fairly sound. At 6'3" and 224 pounds he has the build to be a number one wide receiver, and he's proven that he produces great numbers no matter who's behind center.

    In the open field he is as good as any other receiver and in the red zone he is always the best option on the field. His natural talent for the position is probably the best in the draft.

    The reason that the Vikings should consider Floyd as the best choice at receiver is that he is actually a home-town hero out of the prestigious Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul. The Minnesota Twins' Joe Mauer is from the same school and has become a statewide hero, and Floyd could become the Vikings very own Joe Mauer which would be great for the team.

    He might've had his problems in college, but does this seem like a bad kid? Floyd is obviously an extremely hard worker with all of the motivation in the world. He has been humbled by his issues at Notre Dame, and if the Vikings pick him with a pick outside of the top five he will be the steal of the draft.

#1 Matt Kalil: OT USC

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    Matt Kalil might not be the uber-exciting skill position first round pick that fans love but Kalil would probably be the best pick the Vikings could make, so he should top their wish list.

    The term "skill position" doesn't even seem like a very fair term. Every position requires just as much skill as any other, and if it weren't for non "skill position" players the game wouldn't be any fun to watch.

    Sure it would be fun to watch Christian Ponder chuck it downfield to Michael Floyd, and sure it would be fun to watch Dre Kirkpatrick wreak havoc against Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings, but don't forget the offensive line.

    It wasn't very fun for fans to watch Donovan McNabb get sacked 5 times, or to watch Ponder running for his life on every play. As I mentioned earlier you can thank Charlie Johnson's non-existent play for that. A solid left tackle would improve Peterson's already ridiculous running game and buy Christian Ponder enough time to find open receivers no matter who they are.

    Without a mob of defenders constantly in his face, Ponder will have the ability to throw with proper mechanics without being on the run, allowing for more accuracy and less turf in his facemask. Needless to say, the injury risk will drop as well which will keep the Vikings from resorting to the league's unwanted veteran signal callers.

    Fundamentally speaking, Kalil has it all. He demonstrates great strength, intelligence, and footwork every single game. Matt Barkley is an over-rated quarterback who benefits greatly from not having to worry at all about his blind side thanks to Kalil's flawless execution. He frequently takes out at least two defenders on running downs and buys Barkley unlimited time on passing downs.

    Kalil says he has become a leader and described himself as an extra coach, which demonstrates that he has the personality to become a great addition to any locker room.

    There will always be great "skill position" players to acquire later in the draft, in the free agent pool and via trade, but a tackle prospect like this doesn't come along every day. The Vikings offensive line rebuilding project could begin with him, along with a new winning era.

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